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Kent miners keep their history alive

22 februari, 2012 · 2 kommentarer

They take care of photos and documents and they even have a yearly festival. Although the coal mining industry has disappeared the community spirit is still alive in Kent.
– We are not going to let us be forgotten as miners, in spite of that awful woman Thatcher, Gary Cox says.

In these days the film “The Iron Lady” is shown in the cinemas, with a vulnerable Thatcher suffering from dementia, but it is not making success in the village of Aylesham in Kent in the south east of Great Britain. Here the opinion of Margaret Thather is not high.
– We are proud to say that our mining communities are still alive and as strong today as it ever was, despite that awful woman dragging innocent workers into a political war, that they neither wanted nor was prepared for, Gary Cox says.

Gary Cox

In a small white house, not far from the closed Snowdown pit a couple of men are documenting. They have put photos on walls. They sell paintings from the mines that used to exist in Kent. They are developing a website and recently they produced a dvd.
Eric Norton is busy putting kneepads on a doll, which looks like a miner.
School children do not even know that there used to be mines in Kent, so the men, all former miners, visit the schools and tell the story of the coal mining industry in Kent.
In 1989 the last Colliery was closed here.

Eric Norton

During the strike in 1984-85 the miners were only about 3000 but they were the last in Britain to return to work. Margaret Thatcher had threatened to cut 20 000 jobs for a start. Then 20 000 more and then further jobs.
If you say to these men: Maybe the mines were not profitable enough, maybe some rationalization was needed you immediately get the answer: NO. They are convinced that Thatcher’s only goal was to destroy the unions, especially the strongest of them, NUM.
And anyone can remember what she used to say in these days about NUM and the striking miners like: The rule of law must prevail over the rule of mob and there is going to be no surrender to the mob. Her way of defeating the mob was to give the police all possible support. She was convinced that Scargill was fighting for an undemocratic socialism.
But for Gary Cox and the others in this room the strike was only about to keep their jobs. It was about feeding the families and to keep the tradition and the community spirit,that had existed for generations.

It used to be a mine here

– We were called “The Enemy within” But 98% of the miners simply wanted to work and earn a decent wage, which, looking back on it, we never did. We wanted to protect our mines for this country, for the future and for our families, says Gary Cox.
Gary Cox takes me to an enormous statue of a miner, close to the A 258 and the Fowlmead Country Park where the spoil tip of the former Betteshanger Colliery was. The statue is a naked muscular miner with knee pads. He looks across the field to Betteshanger.
It used to be at the Dover seafront. But some dedicated miners, among them Gary Cox, succeeded in moving the statue to this place, by raising grants.

Gary Cox is standing thoughtfully in front of the statue:
– It was like that, we were working almost naked, due to that heat in the mine, he says.
It was almost a birth right that the sons got jobs in the mine. Grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers.. they all went down to work in the mine.. and you married the girl living nextdoor to you.
There are sports teams and a choir. The popular Betteshanger Brass Band is still playing.
The history of the miners in Kent is not dead. In November the mining communities in Kent will celebrate 100 years of Coaling, which started at Snowdown Colliery.
– We are still a close community. Thatcher could never take that away from us, the flame is still burning, and we will not let it die, he says.

Read more:
For more photos see the Swedish article: De håller sin historia levande trots Thatcher.

Etiketter: Miners English

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